Homelessness in America - A Generosity Challenge

During a conversation with an American mother who participated in the generosity challenge, I learned why her children had chosen “Feeding America” as their family goal. This charity provides nutritious meals to people facing food insecurity. In America, it’s one in six… The children of this family chose this goal because they often see homeless individuals, people who are lacking. The mother explained, “Homelessness is visual. They see it and they want to do something about that.”

Homelessness. It’s undeniably visible here in Tulsa. In our first week already, I heard from the back seat: “Why is that man pushing a shopping cart in the middle of the road? And why are there all those belongings?” I tried to explain that adversity leaves some people here without a safety net and, despite all good intentions, they sometimes end up on the streets. Perhaps a bit simplistic. But we found it troubling together. “Luckily, we don’t have homeless people in the Netherlands,” our daughter suggested.

If only that were true. After some research, I discovered that there are nearly twice as many homeless people in the Netherlands as in Oklahoma. I had never noticed that before. Why is homelessness so much less visible? Probably because the Netherlands invests more in homeless shelters, and the number of homeless people also includes “couch surfers” – people who stay with family and friends. But even in the Netherlands, homelessness is a present reality.

I catch myself often having the tendency to avert my eyes, to close off my heart to all that suffering. Perhaps because it’s too much, or because deep down in my core, I feel immensely powerless. But my children don’t do that, they still see it. They still approach it with an open heart. I’m increasingly discovering that this journey is not just about what we can teach our children, but about how we shape each other. And together, we can make an impact.

Do you still have eyes that see?

-Tine-

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Why Tulsa

“Why Tulsa?” The gym teacher at our daughter’s new school gives us a strange look and questions our sanity for exchanging the beautiful Netherlands for Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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